NOVOCASTRIANS are tipped to visit Hunter Valley vineyards more frequently after the expressway opens today.
Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association general manager Gus Maher said the expressway reduced the journey from Newcastle CBD to the vineyards to 30 minutes, which would entice people to come and enjoy a few hours of food and wine among the vines.
He said Sydney tourists, the major market for wine tourism, would take longer to coax up the M1 until they realised how easy it was to use the expressway and take one of three nearby exits.
The association will soon launch a tourism campaign with major hotels in Sydney and Destination NSW to promote the city’s proximity to the vineyards.
“There is no doubt that the opening of the Hunter Expressway is a great opportunity for the Hunter Valley vineyard region,” Mr Maher said.
“It will have a double barrel effect – it will make the vineyards much closer to our major market in Sydney, with people being able to access the vineyards through Lovedale Road, Wine Country Drive or Hermitage Road, and it will also encourage Novocastrians to come here and enjoy what the region has to offer, and they may even want to stay the night.”
Wineries and restaurants in Lovedale are a few minutes from the expressway and are likely to encourage people to stop and explore, Lovedale Chamber of Commerce president Amanda Lambert said.
“The Allandale interchange is very convenient for people to come to the vineyards and it will take them directly through Lovedale,” she said.
Adina Vineyard owner Peter O’Meara has been promoting the expressway online for 12 months and is ready to launch an online campaign today to mark the expressway’s opening.
“We’re on Lovedale Road which is the natural exit to the vineyards, so we’re going to have people driving right past our property and more people coming in to see what we have to offer,” he said.